It’s been close to five months since a few new faces have taken the reins of The Reporter, so I figured I’d take the opportunity to introduce myself and ask for a little help from our readers.
First off, I have to answer a question a local youngster posed to me a few weeks ago while I was out taking a picture.
“Why do we need a newspaper?” she said.
My initial reply was “so I can have a job,” but I don’t think she got my sense of humor.
So, why do we need newspapers? It’s an interesting question, and a relevant one given that I’ve yet to write a column for the Reporter.
Sure, there are still tons of uses for newspapers. You can use them to line the floor of a dog kennel, you can swat flies with it, and they’re pretty good for wrapping dishes when you’ve got to move.
On a serious note, and to put it simply, a newspaper is the record of a person’s life in a community.
Most community newspapers, including the Reporter, will publish your birth announcement and obituary. Somewhere in between, we’ll print a photo of you dashing 30 yards to score the winning touchdown, making a donation to the local food bank, earning your PhD, getting married or being recognized by the school board.
In my nine years of community journalism, I’ve been to a lot of city council, commissioners court and school board meetings – more than any person should have to suffer through – and to-date, I’ve yet to see a reporter from Google news there. In fact, take a closer look at Google, Yahoo, CNN or any other online news resource. What are they made up of? Links to newspaper stories!
In fact, no other type of media compares to a newspaper for its resources and ability to gather news.
Newspapers serve as public forums because they allow their readers to write letters to the editor and leave comments on guestbooks and within their online companions. How often do you see someone who is not part of the staff expressing their views on the nightly television news?
And newspapers, particularly community newspapers such as The Reporter, function as a vital source of advertising and consumer information.
Few mom and pop stores can afford the prices of big metro dailies and large market television advertising, but they can afford their hometown newspaper. The facts do speak for themselves.
While the top 100 metro newspapers are struggling, small community papers across the nation are doing just fine. Your own Reporter has seen circulation growth every month so far this year!
Consider these statistics from a recent study conducted by the Center of Advanced Social Research at the University of Missouri:
• 81 percent of adults read a newspaper at least once a week.
• 75 percent of those readers share the paper with their friends, colleagues or family.
• One-quarter of readers keep their paper for more than six days.
So, what makes community newspapers tick?
Small-town community newspapers like The Reporter, according to the Mizzou study, are the primary sources of information, both news and advertising, about local communities by a 3-1 margin.
There’s a saying, “if you want to see a television news crew panic, go to a city where the newspaper staff is on strike.”
The fact is, community newspapers like The Reporter are woven into the fabric of life. We’re in the middle of it, covering news, writing features, and highlighting as many accomplishments of our readers’ lives as possible.
That’s where you, the reader, come into play.
Yes, it’s tough enough being the “new kid on the block” and having to find time to be everywhere, all the time, to meet everyone so they can tell me their story.
I’d like to send out an invite to all of our readers and friends to send us your news.
If you’ve got an interesting story idea – no matter how strange – pick up the phone and give me a ring. Trust me, I’ve seen some oddities in my nearly decade-long career!
Maybe your granddaughter won an award at a 4-H event or your son shot a 12-point whitetail at the family ranch? Perhaps your civic organization is presenting a member with a 30-year service pin, or your neighbor has a 15-foot-tall tomato plant growing in the garden (yes, I’ve seen one before)?
These are the things that I never would have known unless a reader picked up the phone and gave their local newspaper a ring. If you’re not sure you’ve got a story, call and tell us what’s on your mind, and more than likely it’ll make it to the pages of the Reporter.
We gladly accept photos too, and will be happy to come out to take one of you presenting a donation or holding up that 10-foot Rattler that slithered onto your porch last night.
And if you’re ever upset about something a local elected official did, or would like to give kudos to the public servant who saved your lost pet, submit a letter to the editor.
To put it simply, we want to hear from you so we can chronicle the lives and events that occur in our special little corner of the world.
Of course, there is another thing about newspapers.
The Mason Valley News in Yerington, Nevada has a great slogan. It’s “the only newspaper in the world that gives a damn about Yerington.”
I like that, and I think caring about our community is what sets us apart.
You may reach Kurt Mogonye, staff writer for The Reporter, at 897-2282, 965-3124 x.229 or by cell phone (512) 350-8317. Email may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org